Monday, July 30, 2012

Under a different sky

yesterday is yesterday

My painting over time leaves a wake of scattered tokens.
Work done under a different sky.
They have a similar effect as a photo of myself 20yrs ago.
This picture is 'Cafe' and the couple stare at me from yesterday.
I think its me in the cafe - yesterday.

Today is today, not yesterday.
I work under a different sky.
Where I am today is where I am to work,
not yesterday.
Much older I see differently and must paint differently
It is foolish to wear a young mans clothes

Agnes Martin spoke about circling not repeating,
reminding me to be myself, yesterday and today.
Under a different sky.
I am invited to relish this day and the wonder of it.
While yesterday left me a token of the past,
I must strike a new coin for today.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How play is a liturgy of creativity

On nurturing serious play

This picture of mine, 'sweet chariot' is a whim, a flight of fancy. We are informed from above that 'play' is good - following a whim in painting is also good. Keeping true to the whim and the spirit of play alive in harder than one might imagine.
When painting, the piece can easily degenerate into the silly or crass if the whim is not preserved in a serious mode. Balancing the quality of serious analysis with lightness of touch calls for a constant re-calibration of the work methodology.
Maintaining a sense of removal from 'the now' can be helpful insofar it lifts me away from our current norm to a less measured space. Music can help me here. I noticed this afternoon that to my surprise I have been playing the same album for four days! It is 'Glassworks' by Philip Glass that has sustained me - when it has finished and the studio falls quiet I work in silence until I notice, when I click play again - and again for four days.
I am not alone in this habit, Diebenkorn I know did the same for weeks, maintaining a trance sustained by a familiar womb of sound. Repetitive audio arrangements can act like a musical liturgy to sustain the spirit in a state of creativity that is not cloyed by the suburban air.
'Sweet chariot' is finished now - perhaps I'll have different sounds tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



Stripes, pink and floor have all been addressed before today, as is often the case, at a certain time I know what to do without forcing the issue. Today I elected to concentrate on the two supporting figures, the 'guardians'. These two told me how they were to be! When I chose a wrong colour or value, it/they shouted at me. Remix - re-apply - OK.
They do have a Persian/Chinese look, which reflects my recent diet in image consumption - I'm easy with that.
Philip Glass accompanied me all day, while the fan whirred and the sun shone.
The coloured enclosures that make up the figures are carefully contrived. Too flat and patterned, wrong. Too 3D and graduated, wrong. I aimed at a constant ambiguity between the two which seemed to work for me.
The central section will wait for another day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Slipway at Ponte A Buriano

Slipway at Ponte A Buriano

I am working on a playful rendering of a riverside site that I drew while sitting by the Arno in Italy. This detail showing three people launching a boat gives a flavour of the whole - although the whole is far from ready to be revealed!
Good company is needed for the journey, and my books furnish me with such encouragement. ancient masters of Persian, Indian and Chinese cultures are open by me. Matisse, a modern master helps, and then I encounter Spencer's Crucifixion from 1921 (below). Both the composition and the mode of application speak to me. I ready to proceed further.
More will follow in due course - the nurture of my mood, the feeding of the mind help me to proceed in the dark. To pull off a 'playful rendering' is always a tricky game.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A haptic high

A haptic high  
While reading Carl Andre recently the word 'haptic' occurred a number of times. Not a common word, haptic, - I needed to look it up for a precise rendering, and just in case it helps the reader, I will paste in the definition.
adjective technical
of or relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception.
ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from Greek haptikos ‘able to touch or grasp,’ from haptein ‘fasten.’
I mention this as it sums up a show I happened upon in Saint Nazaire, in the Centre d'art contemporain known as Le Gand cafe last week incorporating the artist Séverine Hubbard. Her installation (above) Joli turbin, 2011 certainly delivered a haptic high for me!
Such an engaging mix of materials and colours to move between - Her choices were playful in a profound way, I smiled while lifted with pure delight as I experienced the diverse forms and surfaces that spoke while they enveloped me.
They were nothing, but they made an extraordinary something by her choice and arrangement. I found it hard to tear myself away. Touch like smell runs deep in us, this installation ran deep and even now is with me - as it entered me unexpectedly and completely.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day trippers 2

Day Trippers 2
Here the oil is brought to a conclusion. Last seen as a Gouache study, the oil is substantially the same. This is no bad thing if all is well, after all, there is no reason to change purely for the sake of change.
I look for a sense of balance in dynamics, tone and colour - alongside some tension within the whole. 'Tension' is the most difficult to define, I think there needs to be a sort of electricity in the air when the work is viewed after a week away from it.
It is at once obvious and mysterious - both this world and another.
I can bear it, I will leave it alone now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

unplanned juxtapositions

Mid term revision for 'Picnic by the Arno', see previous

How the parts are placed on a canvas is very important. Looking back on the initial layout after a week or two it was quite apparent that it was not right. Major revisions of the whole was called for.

Shown here is my revised layout in pencil and strengthened compressed charcoal on a piece of card. Subsequently squared and transferred to the canvas it will serve to relaunch the image. I do find that to square up a small (A5) gestural drawing and transfer it faithfully to a large canvas is a very useful ploy for maintaining energy and life in a work.

With the canvas squared I redraw the new scheme, everything is moved, but not destroyed. The new colour will only partially obliterate the old, giving unplanned juxtapositions of colour that are very pleasing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



As a spin off from the Italian train themes I painted this for a charity auction. 
It is a light hearted splash with a bit of narrative.
The colour combinations are unusual, I hovered over that grey backdrop, but in the end felt that it set up the pastel colours as well as anything.
It could be yours - as it goes on e-bay as part of the 'stars on canvas' charity later this year, I will post the link when it becomes available.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lunch at Casa Vopli

Here is some painterly self indulgence!

Painting can be a liberating experience and sometimes the enjoyment of creating memories with a brush is just a pleasure, and that pleasure remains in the air wherever the picture goes.
Uncomplicated, hedonistic, a little taste of Italy to go.
 . . . . . enjoy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Departure lounge

'Departure lounge'  - Oil on canvas -  60cm x 60cm

My Italian sketchbook supplied the drawing for this piece. I called it Departure lounge as the figures are together in a space and yet still unconnected. Figure relationships are endlessly interesting as compositions and this one embodies a sort of group self consciousness that you experience in these situations.
Now complete it awaits a frame and a place in the October 6 show. This is one of twelve canvases I am working on in rotation, a method that works well for me as I work wet over dry and the drying time gives me a fresh view of the work when I return to it.